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Bits of shrapnel and bodies of French soldiers littered the ground. But Bullard didn’t have long to worry about it. With bullets flying past—thwipp, thwipp, thwipp—his fellow soldiers crawled toward the trenches that would be their lifeline. Bullard dropped to the ground and followed, hoping to reach relative safety before he was struck by shrapnel or a bullet. At long last, Bullard reached the edge of a trench. “Quickly, mon ami,” a voice said. ” Bullard dropped over the edge and landed in a muddy trench partly filled with water from the rain.
But enlistment was five years in the Legion, and most people thought the war would be over soon, probably before Christmas. The French minister of war devised a solution: foreign volunteers could enlist in special “Marching Regiments” of the Foreign Legion for the duration of the war. Eugene showed up at the nearest Paris recruiting bureau on his nineteenth birthday to join the Foreign Legion. He knew he was in top shape, so he figured he could pass a physical exam even if it was a tough one. But it didn’t take long for him to realize the physical was only a cursory exam.
They hurried to the nearby train that would take them to Paris. After they disembarked at the Paris train station that evening, Eugene grabbed the Dixie Kid by his arm and dragged him across the platform. Pointing at the irresistible lights of the city, Eugene said, “I don’t fight for a few days. ” True to his word, Eugene fought 20 rounds in the Elysées Montmarte arena and beat his opponent, Georges Forrestal, on points. The French audience thought Eugene was a sensation and applauded his boxing style.